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YES: Cancel culture poses asignificant threat to society1.4Is 'cancel culture'bad for society?You decide!1.1'Cancel culture'threatens to restrictthe free exchange ofideas and information2.5Censoriousness, thesuppression of words,images, or ideas thatare "offensive," isbecoming prevalentin American culture3.9For example, Googlefired engineer JamesDamore for writing acontroversial memoresponding to aninvitation to providefeedback on thecompany's policies ondiversity andinclusion that CEOSundar Pichaidescribed as"offensive and notOK"4.10Journalists andanyone in publicpositions are afraid tospeak their mind3.10Editors are fired orpressured to resignfor runningcontroversial pieces4.11Vox co-founderMatthew Yglesiasresigned from the sitethat he founded,citing pressure toconform to the"dominant sensibility"at many digital mediaorganizations5.6NY Times Op-Ededitor James Bennettwas forced to resignfor publishing acontroversial articleby RepublicanSenator Tom Cottonregarding the racialjustice protests thattook place in thespring of 20205.7This stiflingatmosphere willultimately harm themost vital causes ofour time2.6Restricting theexchange of ideasand informationlimits the possibilitiesfor solving societalproblems3.11Silencing problematicideas might meanstifling knowledgeabout their veryexistence4.12Ignorance orunwillingness torecognize problemsprevents taking stepsto solve them4.13Limiting thepossibilities forcreative problemsolving will prevent usfrom responding tomajor crises3.12Offensive speechreveals morefundamental andproblematic actionsand views3.13Censoring offensivespeech does noteliminate theproblematic views oractions that theyexpouse3.14Censoring the speechthat we dislike onlytargets a symptom,not the problem itself4.14"Untoward ideassilenced by politesociety inevitably gounderground. Thathelps make bad ideasfester, spread andmutate before theycan be counteredwith facts, logic andevidence."4.15The way to defeat badideas is by exposure,argument, andpersuasion4.16'Cancel culture'undermines thefunctioning ofdemocracy2.7'Cancel culture'discourages free andopen debate3.15Fear of beingcancelled discouragespeople from speakingfreely4.17According to a 2018McLaughlin andAssociates Poll, 54%of undergraduateshave felt intimidatedabout sharing theirideas or beliefs due toperceiveddisagreements withtheir peers5.8Free and open debateis the heart ofdemocracy3.16Underminingdemocracy hurtsthose who lack power2.8Democracy affords aplace for themarginalized toparticipate ingovernance3.17Other forms of socialorganization arecomparatively moreexclusive to thosewho are marginalized3.18The real victims ofcancel culture are notcelebrities, butvulnerable youngpeople who do nothave the means todistance themselvesfrom online abuse3.19For example, in 2016,Bryn Mawr freshmanAndi Moritz soughtsuicide preventionhelp andsubsequentlydropped out ofcollege after beingberated online andthreatened withphysical violencebecause she hadposted looking for aride-share to aDonald Trump rally4.18'Cancel culture' couldcounterproductivelypush people withproblematic beliefs orideas to expressthemselves in moreextreme ways2.9When people feel thatthey are beingsilenced theysometimes take tomore direct orextreme forms ofaction instead3.20Antonio A. Casilli andPaola Tubaro, authorsof a study on theeffects of censorship,found that, "Morecensorship meansless vision, so citizensare less aware of theirsurroundings andtend to act randomly"4.19These randomreactions can ofteninclude violence4.20For example, formerEgyptian presidentHosni Mubarak'sattempt to censorpolitical dissidents byshutting down thecountry's internet ledto mass protests thatultimately overturnedthe goverment5.9"Cancel culture" isitself the result ofpeople who identifyas marginalizedattempting to takepower back into theirown hands4.21According to AnneCharity Hudley, chairof the linguistics ofAfrican America at theUniversity ofCalifornia at SantaBarbara, canceling is“a survival skill as oldas the Southern blackuse of the boycott"5.10NO: Cancel culture is not athreat to society1.3The supposedlyharmful effects ofcancel culture on its"victims" areoverstated2.1Few people who havebeen "canceled" haveactually had theircareers ended3.1Most of thecancellations are onlytemporary4.1Louis CK beganperforming only ninemonths afteragreeing to step backfrom his career inresponse toallegations of sexualharassment5.1Many of the notablewriters who havebeen pressured orforced out ofpublications forcontroversial viewshave moved to orfounded newpublications4.2Journalists AndrewSullivan and MatthewYglesias both joinedthe paid-newsletterplatform Substackafter leaving NewYork Magazine andVox, respectively5.2Some individuals whohave been "cancelled"actually saw anincrease in theirpopularity3.2Despite backlashagainst Harry Potterauthor JK Rowling foran essay shepublished expressingher concerns abouttransgender rights,her books remainedbestsellers4.3On-demandstreaming of R Kelly'smusic increased by116% following theairing of a six-partdocuseries detailingrepeated sexualabuse allegationsagainst the singer4.4Cancel culture is anecessary mediumfor justice2.2Traditionalinstitutions of justiceare not functioning asthey ought to3.3George Zimmermanwas acquitted afterkilling TrayvonMartin, an unarmedBlack teenager4.5President DonaldTrump hascircumvented thejustice system byissuing pardons for70 people, manyfound guilty of lyingin court andobstructinginvestigations intothe president's ownalleged crimes4.6Cancel culture is animportant means forkeeping public figuresaccountable3.4Cancel cultureincreases possibilitiesfor democraticengagement3.5It offers a platformfor people whosevoices otherwisewouldn't be heard4.7Platforms like Twittergive a loudercollective voice toBlack citizens andother marginalizedgroups who havetraditionally beenshunted to the edgesof publicconversations5.3Traditionaldemocraticinstitutions do notgive opportunities forall people toparticipate in politics5.4As of 2016, 6.1 millionAmericans have beenlegallydisenfranchised dueto past or currentfelony charges6.1Voter purging,restrictive voterregistration and IDlaws, inaccessiblevoting locations, anddisparities in pollingsites and poll workersare all methods ofblocking citizens fromvoting,disproportionatelyaffecting people ofcolor6.2According to AnneCharity Hudley, chairof the linguistics ofAfrican America at theUniversity ofCalifornia at SantaBarbara, “Canceling isa way to acknowledgethat you don’t have tohave the power tochange structuralinequality... [A]s anindividual, you canstill have powerbeyond measure.5.5The cancel culturedebate is about howwe draw moralboundaries in socialdiscourse2.3The cancel culturedebate is not reallyabout free speech3.6Nobody is beingprohibited fromspeaking their views4.8It is about the right toair that speech incertain platforms--mostly major mediaoutlets--without fearof repercussion4.9Virtually everyoneagrees that there aresome opinions thatshould be excludedfrom themainstreams ofpublic discourse2.4For example, Harper'sletter signatories donot include whitesupremacists, or neo-Nazis (who are alsocritics of cancelculture)3.7Germany is notauthoritarian, but itbans Holocaust denial3.8BACKGROUND:Many public figures, including the signatories of an open letterpublished in Harper's Magazine, are criticizing the "illiberalism" ofcancel culture spreading across American society as a threat todemocracy. The Harper's letter was signed by 153 journalists,academics, and public figures, and drew its own firestorm of publiccontroversy and criticism."Cancel culture refers to the popular practice of withdrawing supportfor (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done orsaid something considered objectionable or offensive."1.2

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